Holiday 2011 Outlook

Image from: Adam Gryko / Shutterstock

This post was originally featured on Retail Online Integration:

In case you haven’t noticed the changes taking place in retail outlets all across the country, I am here to report that orange is out and red and green are in!  That’s right; the Holiday season has officially begun.   From tinsel to snowflakes, stores are already decked out in their Holiday finest hoping to entice shoppers to open their wallets and spread some cheer.  Popular online retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target, have already shifted their focus to the Holiday season.  Prominent on home pages are Holiday countdowns, gift buying guides, and hot-ticket sale items.  In October alone, well before the official start of the Holiday season, these Holiday pages have already seen 150 thousand visits.

According to the Fall 2011 Online Shopper Intelligence survey, retailers should expect to see Holiday sales similar to what they saw last year.  2 out of 3 consumers surveyed said they plan to spend the same, if not more, this year on gifts than they did last year.  Specifically, 14 percent planned to spend more, 50 percent said they planned to spend the same amount, and 36 percent said they planned to decrease their spend.  This is good news for retailers fearful of the impact of the still shaky economy.

Overall, consumers plan to spend an average of $515 dollars this year on Holiday gifts and decorations.  The most money will be spent on electronics, clothing, and games.   Online retailers should prepare for an uptick in shoppers this year.  Consumers reported that they plan to spend 41 percent of their holiday budgets this year online.  That is up from last year when consumers spent 33 percent of their budgets online.  With most major retailers now offering free shipping options, online shopping will continue to become a key point of sales during the holidays.  Online retailers with brick-and-mortar stores should expect a lot of store foot traffic from online shoppers as well.  Almost half of the consumers surveyed said that they are “very” or “extremely” likely to use ship-to-store for their Holiday gifts.  Mobile sites will also play an important role for consumers; a quarter of consumers said they plan to purchase holiday gifts on their mobile device.  Online retailers should make sure their mobile sites and shopping apps are operational and user friendly in order to ensure a consumer friendly experience.

And as further evidence that online will be critical this season, Cyber Monday is shaping up to be a more popular shopping day than Black Friday.  Almost 2 out of 5 consumers will wake before dawn and brave the lines to shop on Black Friday, where as about 1 in 2 will surf the web for great deals on Cyber Monday.  Dollar wise, however, Black Friday shoppers plan to outspend Cyber Monday shoppers.  The increased spend is likely due to more people shopping for electronics, clothing, and toys and games on Black Friday than on Cyber Monday.

What does all this mean to you, the marketer?  A unified message across both digital and traditional mediums will be crucial to reaching consumers.  Your shopper will be online and in your store (and maybe both at the same time!), so  to ensure a happy shopping experience, keep your websites up to date and your messaging seamless.

About Debra Miller Arbesman:
Debra Miller Arbesman is senior associate, retailer and consumer products at Compete, a Kantar Media company that helps brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers.